The Codex of War
Summary: Notes on the world of "Stone Against The Sea," a pulp swashbuckling serial in the spirit of Robert Howard.
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The lands of Aquila have proven irresistible to foreign powers seeking easy plunder from the natives. The Hurun Confederacy, however, were not easy prey. The Hurun is not a single tribe, but a democratic confederacy of tribes banded together for mutual protection. Their noteworthy members include the Longhouse Clans, the natives of the North Aquilan forested heartlands; the Plainsriders, a formerly nomadic tribe that readily adapted to foreign horses introduced to their lands; the Boat People, a group of refugees of Ursian colonization in redwood long canoes and clad in wooden armor; and most recently, the Havenists. The Confederacy sometimes has tensions between members, but is open and tolerant towards most. If their trust is betrayed, however, they are fearsome foes when angered.
The membership of the Havenists was the most different culture yet assimilated by the Confederation. Haven was an Anglavian colony founded by intellectuals and outcasts from the Republic. Unlike the aristocratic Anglavian system, the Havenists experimented with radical equal rights for men and women, regardless of wealth. From the beginning, the Havenists received little support from the Anglavian government. The Hurun saved the colonists during a harsh winter by giving them food and showing them how to grow native species of crops. The colony of Haven grew out from the city of Portsmouth, but the city council (especially respected statesman and natural philosopher Benjamin Locke) were keen to avoid conflict with the natives. The Anglavian government, however, began demanding the colony send taxes and profits back to the homeland, and seize native land so it could be resold to speculators. The colonists voted to join the Hurun Confederacy, formally seceding from Anglavia. There were brief skirmishes, but the Anglavian garrison was withdrawn due to concerns over Bordeaux involvement.
Some of the Havenists opted to return to Anglavia instead of living with the 'savages,' but those left get along well. They showed the natives modern technologies, and in exchange, learned to better live in their new environment. They encourage development of new ideas and technologies, as the natives realize innovation is a chief Havenist strength. Crude steam-driven paddlewheel craft chug down the rivers of the Confederacy, and its woods are protected by militia and braves armed with flintlock rifles and silent pneumatic weapons. The terrain itself is likewise a formidable weapon, as the Confederacy has centuries of experience with guerrilla style warfare. The inventions of the Havenists merely multiply this to increasingly deadly levels.
The Havenists employ a combination of military assets, using both prototype inventions and ancient weapons. Each tribe maintains a militia or defensive force comprised of trained citizens (both male and female), with a "standing army" of professionals and experienced troops directed by the Grand Council. In the event of an invasion, the militia would utilize ambush and delaying tactics to buy time for the professional force to rally and engage the bulk of the enemy force. Snipers and assassins, armed with a range of weapons from bows and arrows, flintlock Aquilan long rifles, and experimental pneumatic guns, target enemy officers and scouts to sow confusion. Entire villages and towns are emptied and stripped bare before invading armies arrive, to deny the enemy resources from plunder. Cavalry can be deployed in the forests of Aquila, but the Plainsriders prefer rapid raids to frontal assaults. The heavy infantry often wear a combination of light metal and wooden armor, with wooden plate in the style of the Boat People being increasingly common. Rope bindings are used for additional strength.
The Hurun naval tactics are geared towards repelling enemy warships from the coast rather than blue water engagements. Their redwood war canoes, each carved from ancient trees, are used for long distance surprise attacks on enemy camps rather than ship to ship battles. While they have early steam propelled ships (including some with ad hoc iron plating), the reliability of these on open seas are highly questionable. The crude ironclads excel as floating fortresses and gunships, plying the rivers, lakes, and bays of the country. The city of Portsmouth does, however, possess a conventional shipbuilding industry. Most of their craft are built as whaling and trade ships rather than devoted warships. They offer letters of marquee to various ship-owners, encouraging them to raid enemy shipping. The one exception to this are slave ships, which must be set free immediately. Hurun raiding of Anglavian slave ships has been a major source of diplomatic tension in recent years.
The Hurun have been particularly active in arming other native tribes of Aquila (and beyond) in recent years, in hopes of slowing down colonial expansion. However, it has also destabilized their own frontiers to a point, as their former enemies manage to acquire more advanced weapons than before. This has not gone unnoticed, and prompted the colonial powers to begin probing for weaknesses with increased border incursions. No matter what happens, the people of Hurun will not allow themselves be easily crushed under a foreign heel.